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Summary:

The rise of cloud and big data is altering business models, and in the process shifting corporate hierarchies, too. The chief marketing officer could be a big beneficiary of all this change.

cmo marketing
photo: Pressmaster/Shutterstock

In every shift of technology, new companies emerge to dominate new spaces while incumbents falter (and sometimes fade away). Today’s epic shift to mobile, big data and real-time analytics will certainly change the corporate landscape. But the emergence of these new technologies is also inspiring major change in the C-level suite, and the biggest beneficiary will be the Chief Marketing Officer.

Marketing becomes new revenue arm

Traditionally, CMOs have dealt with the “soft skills” of marketing. They headed up cost centers filled with branding, advertising and campaigns that were expensive endeavors, producing benefits that were often difficult to measure. In this current shift, CMOs might not bring CIOs to their knees, but if corporate budgets could talk they would certainly favor the CMO. To wit: Gartner predicts that by 2017 the CMO will spend more on IT than the CIO. Why? Mobile, big data and real-time analytics are transforming the modern CMO’s organization from a cost center to a critical revenue-driving arm to reach and engage the customer base.

Realizing that CIOs and CMOs probably hate stories of a battle raging between them, there is actually a peaceful, and logical, middle ground in which the two work together to harness the vastness of big data to create real-time – and importantly, actionable – analytics. While the CMO brings the marketing skills to the table, the CIO has the technical chops to deal with capturing, processing and integrating data to make it useful.

Mobile transition requires new tools

The CMO is in a particularly prime position in the increasingly important mobile channel, as the feedback loop is uniquely personal and immediate. The ability to measure, predict and act upon an end-user action has never been more precise.

However, mobile is a different beast and legacy systems designed for the web rely on cookies to track user interaction. As we go more mobile, we enter a world devoid of cookies. New tools are required to match mobile users to their actions across multiple channels. Along with new tools, there needs to be a new partnership – the CMO and CIO united as a Dynamic Duo – working diligently together to deliver the cloud-based and back-office infrastructure required to pull actionable information from big data across all channels: bricks and mortar, web and mobile.

New focus on data-driven outreach

To get a view into what makes the CMO so potentially powerful, let’s turn to another battle, the one that happens on a quarterly basis across corporate America and beyond: The fight to make the quarterly earnings number. Typically, a CEO faced with a sales or earnings shortfall will turn to the CFO and the head of sales and say: “What can you do?”

The honest answer is: short term, not much. They can jam the channel, which will make the next quarter’s number even harder to achieve. Or shovel product out the door at prices that wouldn’t otherwise make sense. But by the time the word gets to the field and actions kick into gear, there can be quite a lag in results. And, again, these results may have value only for the short-term.

In the very near future – one that has already arrived for some organizations – the CEO turns to the CMO, who looks up from his or her laptop and says: “No problem. We should make that number by noon.”

The CFO and head of sales turn and say in unison: “How?”

“While you were talking I found an overstock of our Zing42 and sent an offer to 234,000 customers who have purchased this in the past, and statistically are ready to buy again, and to another 341,000 customers who haven’t purchased this yet, but show a high probability of doing so at the price point we are offering.”

No hurried sales calls to the field asking them to stuff the channel. No broadcasting of sales and discounts that can tarnish an image or weaken a brand. But rather, an analytically-driven offer to a curated digital audience delivered via a simple mobile notification, or in-application offer, to thousands of people who are analyzed and selected to be eager buyers.

This is the look of the CMO ascending: Powered by a cloud of mobile, big data and real-time analytics.

Rob Lilleness is the CEO of Medio, a Seattle-based provider of analytics solutions for mobile computing. Follow him on Twitter @Robmedio.

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Photo courtesy Pressmaster/Shutterstock.com.

  1. Antonio Santos Saturday, May 18, 2013

    Generally the CMO doesn’t have the skills required for the changes mentioned above..

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  2. Max Büchler Sunday, May 19, 2013

    Agree with Antonio but; things are changing and so do roles and skills.

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    1. changing is not rapid. The pace of this trend will define its future

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  3. Nice try but example is really far fetched, out of this world imagination.

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  4. Not sure if businesses can still access very real big data behind paywalls, firewalls, in IMs, emails and etc i.e. companies might fall flet if they invest too much on big data science ? – http://srknet.co.uk/2013/05/15/six-reasons-why-big-data-science-is-not-working-for-businesses/

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  5. Not sure if businesses can still access very real big data behind paywalls, firewalls, in IMs, emails and etc i.e. companies might fall flet if they invest too much on big data science ? – http://srknet.co.uk/2013/05/15/six-reasons-why-big-data-science-is-not-working-for-businesses/

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  6. tapestryphoto Sunday, May 19, 2013

    Wow. I’m sort of stunned by some of these comments. This isn’t a vision of the future – it’s what smart marketing organizations do now (and have been doing for some time). Granted, not every organization has great insight into their customers, but those that do absolutely take what they know about their customers (what they have purchased, what they are likely to purchase) and develop programs targeted specifically at them. Those data, in turn, are used to find “lookalike” customers in the database that perhaps have not purchased yet but are likely to based on their similar demographic/psychographic profile. Data drives everything* (already) in a smart marketing org.

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  7. rob lilleness Thursday, May 23, 2013

    Great comments. I completely agree with tapestryphoto: smart marketing organization are becoming data-driven. While the legacy tools and systems have big sets of data trapped, new emerging technologies–especially in mobile. The world is definitely favoring real-time analytics. Those companies who continue to lock their data away in legacy systems are will increasingly fall behind.

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